Encouragement.

Yesterday it was my daughter Leyas sports day. It was her first one in fact, as she had chicken pox this time last year. It was such a fun day, with lots of different races, parent participation in the form of a dressing up race, and a tug of war. Sadly, our team of mums didn’t win this -but it was good fun nonetheless.

One big difference I noted between sports day at my daughters school, and the sports days I remember growing up, was that the emphasis now was in the taking part, the teamwork and the enjoyment, rather than competition (although some parents did get a little over-zealous during their race!).

I noticed that this approach meant many less tears amongst the children, and lots of smiles all round. The key here was the encouragement and confidence building that the teachers had given the children during their practices and on the big day itself.

Each child is an individual and has different areas of strength. Some of the children were very fast, so they sprinted well, and some of the children had brilliant co-ordination, so the egg and spoon race was perfect for them. The flexible ones breezed through the spider race.

The important message I took away from today, that I hope I can continue to pass on to both my girls, is that its ok if you find some things more challenging than others. Try hard, have fun, and be proud of yourself for taking part in something and not letting the fear of failing hold you back.

Use words of encouragement for your little loved ones, and you will truly see them flourish!

Amsterdam.

On Friday, my husband took me to Amsterdam.

After the British Airways Flying with Confidence course at the beginning of last month, I wanted to fly again soon, to get another short practice flight in, before we take the girls on holiday.

Amsterdam seemed like a good choice, it’s a short flight, just 45 minutes from Heathrow to Amsterdam Schiphol.

We flew out on Friday evening, arriving in Amsterdam at about 8.30pm. We took a taxi to our hotel, Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South. When we booked, I don’t think we realised how far our hotel was from the city centre. On arrival at the hotel, they had kindly upgraded our room, and brought us a chilled bottle of Cava, which remained unopened. my husband doesn’t drink alcohol and I was recovering from a cold, so didn’t feel like drinking.

We decided to go straight into the city, and had a walk around, taking in all the Amsterdam has to offer- so mainly weed, lots of drunk tourists, plenty of sex shops, and of course the lovely ladies of the red light district.

We had some good pizza, and then headed back to our hotel for the night. I was really homesick and missing my girls, so was eager to get some sleep and welcome the next day.

Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza was lovely, there was a huge variety available, and they had a friendly chef making omelettes on request at the hot buffet-yummy!

After breakfast we checked out and headed back into the City. I have to say I preferred Amsterdam in the daytime, it was easier to admire the flowers adorning some of the canal bridges, and to appreciate the eclectic arquitecture which ranged from quaint to modern.

Dam Square was busy, the souvenir shops had some nice things, and I was able to get a few small gifts to bring back home. We walked around and explored, had some drinks at a nice bar in the square, and sampled some of the food on offer around the area. The Churros with Nutella, and the chips with curry ketchup were particularly good.

We went to the airport about an hour earlier than we needed to so we could relax in the British Airways lounge, and unwind a little before out flight.

Schiphol Airport is efficient, and has great shopping, but the staff-undesirable to say the least.

The flight home was quick and comfortable (Thank you BA).

I’m glad we went, Amsterdam is an experience to be had at least once, if not just to see how utterly Bizarre the city is. For me this was more just a confidence building flight. A practice for the real holiday.

I would love to hear about your experiences of Amsterdam!

 

Hypnobirthing.

I have always had a deep anxiety centred around anything remotely medical in nature. Doctors visits as a child were a nightmare- or should I say, I was a nightmare at the Doctors. I would cry all the way there, the entire time spent in the waiting room, and the get hysterical as soon as we walked into the consultation room. It became a running joke with our GP, and any travel vaccines, booster injections etc. had to be done after surgery closing hours, as a special late appointment to avoid me freaking out the other patients-yes it really was THAT bad!

Obviously, things improved slightly as I got older, but the general anxiety around being at surgeries and hospitals remained, with my needle phobia worsening over time.

When I found out I was pregnant, any possibility of being happy about the news was overshadowed by my fear of this impending medical scenario I would have to go though, after all it all looks very dramatic on TV. I mean, the thought of a natural labour was terrifying enough, but the chance that I might end up needing a C-section was worse. What about all the check ups that would come before that? The needles, the ultrasounds, the prodding and poking. Pregnancy care had me so worked up, I just couldn’t even begin to get excited.

I vaguely remembered reading an article online, in which a celebrity (who shall remain nameless), had talked about her calm ‘zen’ childbirth, with  no drugs. I began to do some more research into this and discovered she had been referring to Hypnobirthing. The more I read about Hypnobirthing, the more I liked the sound of it. It seemed like just what I needed to make my experience of having a baby less traumatic than I kept imagining it to be.

I found a local practitioner and contacted her. She came out to conduct the sessions with couples or individuals in their own home. My husband and I took the course as a couple. There were about five sessions, lasting a couple of hours each (so it took commitment), but the course covers everything that other ante-natal courses do, so there was no need to book anything else. The hypnobirthing technique is a combination of positive affirmations, visualisation, anchoring, meditation, self-hypnosis and relaxation.

For those of you thinking it sounds a bit ‘alternative’- believe me, I was the biggest skeptic and I approached this more out of desperation than an open mind. I am so glad, however, that I took that step.

When the day finally arrived I got through it with no panic- honestly none at all- well not until the floods of tears that came when I held Leya for the first time. But yes, no crying, no anxiety and most importantly NO FEAR.

I had a 48 hour labour with Leya, but only 12 of those took place at the hospital. I did most of the hard work at home. If I can get through childbirth in such a calm, relaxing way, anyone can. My mum and husband who were both present for the entire birth, said they still cant believe how I seemed to take it in my stride. Leya didn’t scream upon arrivals, she just had a quiet little cry to let us know her lungs were working fine, and she was the happiest, calmest baby imaginable.

Hypnobirthing babies are generally good sleepers and calmer, and hypnobirthing mums tend to have a natural labour (unless an unforeseen emergency arises). Go and do some research if the through of giving birth is giving you sleepless nights.

p.s No one can predict the other factors that may determine how your pregnancy and labour go, and I’m not saying Hypnobirthing is the only way forward and that it will definitely work for you, but it did WONDERS for me, and I think the more you read about other peoples experiences, you’ll find yourself intrigued about what it could do for you.

Post Natal Depression – My Experience.

‘2-3 weeks pregnant’ the test read. I looked down in horror. the lump in my throat seemed to be growing by the second and my heart was hammering. I unlocked the bathroom door, and said ‘thanks for ruining my life’. As I burst into tears, my poor husband didn’t know what to do with himself. This was not like the movies, and these were not tears of joy.

The first thoughts in my mind were, how will I get this thing out? I can’t even have a blood test without going into full blown panic, how am I going to give birth?

I visited the GP the very next day and spent the appointment crying, as she explained I would need to book my first midwife appointment. I was so anxious and angry all at the same time. For the next few weeks I felt nothing but resentment. At 7 weeks in to the pregnancy the sickness started. This was no ordinary morning sickness. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Oh the joy. I couldn’t keep a single thing down, and was sick up to ten times a day. The sickness didn’t stop until the day I gave birth, and I lost 2 stones in weight during my pregnancy.

Being sick all the time took a toll on my mood, as well as my physical health. I couldn’t identify with this thing growing inside me-it felt alien. At about 14 weeks I went to visit my GP, and told her I felt nothing for this baby. I was struggling emotionally. After speaking to me at some length, she finally said ‘I think you’ve got antenatal depression’. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I had never heard of it. No one talks about these things and no one explains that’s being pregnant might not be the wonderful, exciting experience you expect it to be.

I left the surgery feeling confused. Was I actually depressed, or was it the constant vomiting getting me down? The weeks dragged on, I did more research into HG and how it affects your mood in pregnancy, and eventually I began to accept the sickness as part of my daily routine.

At my 20 week scan, we found out that we were having a girl. That was the defining moment for me, the moment I realised that this girl was coming into our life and needed me to be the best version of myself. I owed it to her. At 26 weeks I suddenly started bleeding. I was at work, and had to rush to hospital where I was kept in overnight. I spent that night wishing with all my heart that she would be ok. I had gone from not wanting this baby, to not being able to live without her, in a matter of weeks, without having ever met her. Luckily the bleeding had stopped by the morning and she was fine. I felt my mood lift and change in the coming weeks, and once she was born the sickness completely disappeared.

However, on her day three check up, the midwife discovered that she was very jaundiced. I had been breastfeeding, and it turned out Leya hadn’t quite learnt how to latch on properly. I also wasn’t producing a great deal of milk, so those two things coupled together meant that Leya wasn’t getting enough to drink and became dehydrated. She was admitted into hospital the same day and then it was test after test, and her in a little tube having phototherapy. It broke me to see her like that, so tiny, so helpless. My husband and I slept by her side on a little pull out bed for the two nights she was there, and once we got her home she was bottle fed. Slowly, I started to get into a routine with her, and my mood lifted.

With my second pregnancy, the sickness started at six weeks. It was even worse than the first time and required hospital treatment with fluids. To add insult to injury, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Due to the sickness, it couldn’t be treated with tablets or insulin, although I had to try both to begin with- yes the needle phobic had to inject herself!

The diabetes meant constant hospital visits, and couple with the sickness, made my pregnancy a miserable one. The familiar feelings of resentment returned. I felt so alone, everyone around me was excited and happy, and I felt pressurised to feel the same way. Your body goes through so many changes, physical, hormonal, emotional, and you’re expected to push that aside and smile and be happy.

When I was on my own I would cry. I didn’t want Leya to have to share me with someone else. I didn’t want her to feel pushed out or neglected. That was my biggest fear, she was my baby, she needed me. How was I going to love something else like I loved her? Did I have that much love left? It may sound awful, but that is the reality of my thoughts at the time.

At the 20 week scan once again, the sonographer told us we were having a little girl, but this time no rush of joy for me. My husband was over the moon, but I couldn’t get past how unwell I felt.

I had to be induced at 38 weeks and the labour was complicated and terrifying (I’ll spare you the gory details). We had what is described as a ‘birth trauma’, and when I did finally hold Aria, all I did was cry and apologise to her for not wanting her. Once on the ward, I started to feel a distance between us, and it continued when we got home. I would avoid holding her, and diverted all my attention towards Leya. There were times when she would cry and it was almost as though I couldn’t hear her. It felt like a baby crying in the distance. I loved her-I knew that, but I just didn’t have the overwhelming urge to cradle her in my arms and comfort her. My midwife picked up on my feelings right away, and gave me a questionnaire to complete. I scored really high up the scale of post-natal depression. She wanted to refer me to a specialist team but I declined. ‘I’ll pull myself out of this’ I told her.

We agreed to meet in a weeks time and when she came back my score had halved. The road to recovery was long and hard. It took a while before I felt like me again.

Aria is two and a half now, and there are still days when my mind tries to take me back to the darkness of that delivery suite and the moment I almost lost her. That was the moment my subconscious mind tried to sever the bond we had, to prepare me for the possibility that she might not make it. I have to work hard to remind myself that she’s fine, she’s healthy and she’s here.

post-natal depression affects women differently and some aren’t as lucky as me, they find it impossible to come through without medication and therapy, some experience psychosis and many even harm themselves. Untreated it can lead to life-long mental health problems and it is much more common than we are led to believe. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject.

Look out for the new mums around you, look for the signs that they might not be coping. Being a new mum is exhausting and we need to be reminded and reassured that its ok and normal to feel that way. It doesn’t make you a bad mother to ask for help.

I Love BOTH my daughters with every bit of my being. My experience of post-natal depression was luckily short-lived, and I got through it with the support of those around me.

If you’re suffering, don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy Motherhood.

Children Grow up So Fast.

Yesterday my husband and I, attending an information evening at our eldest daughters school. It was about her moving up to the next year group. She is currently in Reception and moves up to Year One in September. Year One. How has that happened?

I remember holding her for the first time like it was yesterday. That moment was so life changing. Time really does seem to have flown since then.

Our second daughter came along a couple of years later, and she’s now two and a half. They are growing up far too quickly for my liking. I miss cradling them, and having them snoozing on me after a feed. I miss the quiet serenity and sense of peace a sleeping baby brings to a household.

When my firstborn was tiny, and cried, I remember the frustration I felt at times, wishing she could just communicate to me what she needed. It broke my heart to see her so upset, to try everything I could to make it better and still have no joy. Now, there are days where I can’t wait till the girls are asleep, so I can FINALLY have some quiet time. I have got two very lively, chatty, happy girls, who love to talk, play, sing and laugh all day-and I mostly love it!

Leya, my eldest, will be five in a few weeks, and I’ve been busy planning her birthday party. She gets so excited about her birthday-and rightly so! This year she’s having a unicorn party. I cant wait to share a post about it with you.

I am sure that just like these first few years have flown by, in the blink of an eye they’ll be older, doing their own thing, their dependency on me diminishing over time. However, I do know that the bond, and their need for me will remain, because I see it with my mum and me, and my mum and hers. My mum is always on hand to help me with the girls and I don’t know what I would do without her. I hope I can do the same one day for my girls.

The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that I intend to make the most of every experience, all the ups and downs of parenting. I want to laugh with them through the good times, and offer comfort and support through the difficult ones.

Having children has given me such joy-but it’s not always a bed of roses, and the road to happiness isn’t always easy.

Come back tomorrow, I’m going to share my experience of the common, and often overlooked condition that is Postnatal Depression.

Taking Control of Your Life.

How often do you catch yourself saying things like ‘I hate my job’, ‘I’m unhappy with my weight’ or ‘My relationship is making me miserable.’? Almost everyone has some aspect of their life that they wish was different.

Some things require simple changes which are so easy to achieve, they barely have to be thought through, for example, looking at those silvery threads in your hair, that sure sign and glaring reminder of your ageing. This kind of thing is easily changed if you feel the need, by getting your hair dyed or indeed buying a box of dye and doing a DIY job.

Other things however, require some planning and evaluating your situation, then making changes that take some serious work. Some examples of this might include:

  • Losing weight
  • Getting a new job
  • Leaving an unhealthy, unhappy relationship
  • changing direction and re-training for a new career

There are of course, many more examples that I have not covered, and without getting into too much depth about how to approach these individually, I would like to offer some general advice about reaching your goals.

The first thing to understand is that the excuses have to stop. As an adult you can no longer use your experiences as a child, to shape the way your life turns out. You and you alone have to be responsible for who you are. Yes, as a child, you may have been influenced by your family, friends, living situation etc. However, those things to do define you as a person.

Any realistic goal is achievable, stop making excuses as to why you cant get there and stop blaming other people for standing in your way. You are the only person standing between you and the life you want.

Positive self-talk is so important. You need to be your own voice of encouragement. Nurture and love yourself, tell yourself you can achieve anything you put your mind to. The negative self-doubting part of your mind will try to tell you different, but it’s up to you which part of your mind wins this battle.

Take control, remember you’re the one in charge here. Your brain will do what you tell it to, so if you keep telling yourself that something is impossible, your subconscious takes this as an instruction.

You have to create your reality by visualising it, and working hard to bring it into existence. Shut down the self-doubt and change those self-limiting beliefs into positive statements of determination and encouragement. It takes work, but once you train your mind to think this way, you’ll find it gives you a new found confidence and zest for life.

What are you waiting for?

If you feel like you need some extra help with setting your goals and working towards them, a life coach or mentor could be just what you need. Visit http://www.focusclaritycoaching.co.uk for more information on how I can help you.

My Approach to Weekends.

I wouldn’t say I live for the weekends, because since I changed the way I think and feel about life, everyday is a blessing to me and there is always something to be positive and happy about or something to look forward to. However, I do adore the weekend for the simple reason that my husband doesn’t have to go to work, and my girls aren’t at school or nursery. Weekends are family time to me. They are the perfect opportunity for us to all be together, put the week behind us and recharge our batteries in preparation for the next productive week that is already fast approaching. Don’t the weeks, months, and the year for that matter, just seem to be flying by lately?

Weekends are also a chance for us to spend time with our extended family. The girls enjoy seeing their grandparents, uncles, aunts a cousins. I’m lucky to live close by to my parents and most of my extended family. My husbands family are a couple of hours drive away, so that makes for a nice weekend getaway when we fancy a change of scenery.

I love having people over for food, and equally, love going out to eat with my husband and the girls.

This weekend my brother in law and his wife are visiting us, and Leya, my eldest is keen to take them to our favourite dessert place for gelato. It will be nice to catch up with them both.

I love weekends with a nice relaxed pace like this sometimes, when there are no specific plans and you can just go with the flow. That is something I’ve had to teach myself to appreciate, because being a naturally anxious person, and a typical Virgo, my default stance is to plan everything down to the second.

How do you enjoy spending your weekends? However you spend your time this weekend, make the most of it and do things that make you feel good. Try to surround yourself with those that radiate the kind of positive energy we all need so much.

Have a wonderful weekend, and i’ll talk to you on Monday.